Friday, April 11, 2008

Humble Pie

My latest music purchase is a greatest hits compilation of Humble Pie.

My friend Anne sparked my interest earlier this year by linking to a video of their song “30 Days in the Hole”, which was the first time I had ever heard it.

Now I’m hooked. Last year, I got into The Faces which was the band that helped launch Rod Stewart and Ron Wood’s careers. Now I am learning about all these connections between the two bands - Humbe Pie’s lead singer Steve Marriott had originally been in a group called the Small Faces with the core rhythm section of what would become The Faces. When Marriott left, he was replaced by Stewart and Wood. But Marriott got together with Peter Frampton and launched Humble Pie.

Anyhow, Marriott is an incredible singer (supposedly the inspiration for Led Zepplin) and it is a shame that he was killed in a house fire sometime back.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Endless war cheerleading

The San Antonio Express-News has been cheerleading for Bush’s war in Iraq since Day 1 and today is no different. Their editorial today is no different and, what’s worse, they devote the ENTIRE Other Views section to three op-ed pieces by rightwing warhawks — Cal Thomas, Rich Lowry and Ken Allard.
How is that for fair and balanced? Way to go Jonathan Gurwitz! You totally rule Bruce Davidson’s world.

Today’s editorial is a particulary loathsome piece of garbage. The title is “Don’t hastily discard hard-won Iraq gains”.
Hastily?!?!? Hastily?!?!?!?!? We’ve been over there for five years now!!! What the HELL are they talking about hastily!!!???!!!! Idiots!!!
The subhead says “U.S. forces have purchased modest progress at a tremendous cost, but the alternatives may be worse”.
Modest progress my rear! If we’ve been there five years, spent $300-plus billion dollars, sacrificed 4,000 U.S. soldiers lives, and yet if we leave anytime in the next year things will supposedly go to hell in a handbasket.... How can they call that progress?
And as for alternatives that could be worse, what could possibly be worse than having our military mired in that hellhole for another four years? (a certain guarantee if John McCain is elected).
And yet, any thought of us leaving Iraq at any time in the near future is constanly equated with failure and retreat. This time next year, and the year after that, and the year after that, we will hear this same song-and-dance routine from Gen. Patraeus or whoever the current general in charge is. It never ends, just like this video illustrates:

Look who’s back!

My old sparring partner Mark Harden has resurfaced in the Letters to the Editor section of the San Antonio Express-News.

Mark is in a tizzy because in a news story on Saturday about a local woman being appointed to the board of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) the E-N failed to denounce the group as an Islamofascist terrorist organization! Such shoddy journalism!!!

Mark claims that CAIR “was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the trial of the Holy Land Foundation for providing material support to Hamas, an officially designated terrorist group. But Mark neglects to mention that case ended in a mistrial.

After 19 days of deliberations, a jury in 2007 were unable to come to a definitive conclusion and the case ended in a mistrial. On Nov. 4, 2007 the LA Times reported: "The nation's biggest terrorism finance case ended so badly for the government that it has thrown into question the Bush administration's original order to shut down the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development six years ago."
Experts found the jury's inability to come to a definitive conclusion evidence of weakness in the government's ability to provide clear enough evidence against the charity.
The LA Times reported: "If the government can shut them down and then not convince a jury the group is guilty of any wrongdoing, then there is something wrong with the process," Georgetown University law professor David Cole said. [9]
George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley said the criminal trial derailed the government's long-publicized assertions about Holy Land. "From the beginning, the allegations were highly suspect and only got worse," said Turley, who has handled a number of national security cases.
"Indeed, Turley said, if the government had begun with the troubled criminal case, it might never have succeeded in closing down the foundation administratively because its disputed evidence would have come to light years ago."
Some jurors were skeptical of the government's case. The LA Times reported: "The government's allegations not only proved unpersuasive but engendered skepticism among some jurors.
"The whole case was based on assumptions that were based on suspicions," said juror Scroggins, who added: "If they had been a Christian or Jewish group, I don't think [prosecutors] would have brought charges against them."

Mark also references American Islamic Forum for Democracy , a rightwing lobby group with little support outside of rightwing circles, in a further attempt to tarnish CAIR.
It seems little wonder then that CAIR feels compelled to keep an Urban Legends section on its website to try and combat the wild accusations that get thrown at it (and then published in newspapers) on a regular basis.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Charlton Heston

Here is a good retrospective on Charlton Heston.
I’ve always liked Heston despite his conservative political advocacy. I don’t let a person’s politics affect the way I look at their art or music. I was annoyed that Heston became such a strong public advocate for the NRA at a time when the organization was becoming much too extreme in its advocacy - assault weapons, cop-killer bullets, plastic guns, etc. But I also think he should get more credit for being one of the celebrities to embrace the Civil Rights movement early on.
My favorite Charton Heston movies are fairly obvious:

The Ten Commandments
Planet of the Apes
Omega Man

But then I was surprised by how few of Heston’s pictures I’m really familiar with. I know I have seen others, but I don’t remember them as well and would need to watch them again for a full appreciation. So here is a list of Heston movies I would like to revisit or see for the first time:

Touch of Evil
El Cid
Major Dundee
The Agony and the Ecstasy
Will Penney
Soylent Green

The last time a saw Heston was probably in Michael Moore’s film “Bowling For Columbine” and my reaction was quite the opposite of what Moore intended. Moore took his film crew to Heston’s residence in Hollywood and tried to do one of his gotcha seens aka “Roger and Me” only to have it backfire on him. Heston came across as gracious and welcoming while Moore came across as crass and vindictive. In the end I left the theater feeling sympathetic for Heston (although still not sympathetic with his views) and thinking that Moore had behaved like a total jerk.